Archive for February, 2008

Quote of the Day

Friday, February 29th, 2008

From Vodkapundit:

When recessions hit, the worst thing the government can do is something.

Indeed (sans “Heh”). It’s either too much or too little, and always too late.

Update: And speaking of “getting it” (or not), CNN the other day had a poll on “Who do you blame for the mortgage meltdown?

13% of respondents said the government.

Apparently President Bush was out there forging signatures on paperwork for all those people who didn’t bother to understand their mortgage or read the fine print, and he also was the loan officer for those mortgage companies dumb enough to give a $250,000 loan to someone making $10 an hour with no other income.

Hi, We’re the Far Right

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

…and we’re obviously pretty nervous that Obama would wipe the floor with us as the Democratic nominee.

This is right up there with Colbert’s hot tip that Obama has fathered a black child.

Another thought: If Barack Hussein Obama had, at age 18, changed his name to Stephen Paul Shlingerdonk, as soon as the Republicans caught wind of it they would be screaming, “Why did he change his name? What is Stephen Shlingerdonk trying to hide??”

That would be followed by crap websites insinuating that Air Force One is going to take down a skyscraper in 2009.

And I would still be making fun of them.

Note: I voted for the man currently in office, so I am not some evil lefty. I’m just disappointed (periodically disgusted) by the far right. As for being disgusted by the far left, well, that’s generally a given, isn’t it?

Maxim + Educated Guess = Oxymoron?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Wow, it’s a good thing I only scan Maxim for the boobies and not for the fabricated music reviews.

Credit Card Fraud Alert

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

When I got my most recent credit card statement, I noticed a small – yet unrecognized – charge for $9.87 on it. It was for a company called PicturesJungle.com.

A quick visit to their site showed what appears to be a subscription stock photography site, although it’s very light on details, and to find out any more you have to sign up and pay for access.

Anyway, I naturally called the bank and had them dispute the charge. They did. Easy.

However, something didn’t sit quite right with me, so I started Googling about for more information… and came across this.

Several people mentioning how they, too, had seen $9.87 charges from PicturesJungle.com showing up on their credit cards in the last two months.

Ladies and gents, welcome to the wonderful land of credit card fraud.

Also of interest is that the domain name for PicturesJungle.com was only registered in November, 2007. The fraud appears to have begun shortly thereafter.

Now, I’ve no idea if the people behind PicturesJungle.com are the crooks, setting up a front company to process small charges on the cards of thousands (small charge x thousands = big money). It just struck me as an odd string of events.

Probably something best left to the FTC to figure out through an investigation, should they be interested in conducting one.

In the meantime, I have contacted my bank again to have my card account canceled.

Anyway, just a warning to everyone to be checking their statements for the magical numer $9.87 from a new web-company of which they have never heard.

Note: Reading further, it appears that the company names “Prophotosland.com” and “Alkay Services LLC” are also showing up with fraudulent charges, primarily on Chase credit cards (and just because it doesn’t say Chase in big and bold, doesn’t mean it isn’t; for example, United Mileage Plus is run by Chase).

Update: Looks like ProPhotosLand has everything the same as PicturesJungle, except for the name and the contact info. Curious.

Update 2: More discussion, with additional company names being used for the fraud.

Update 3: I have filed a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. If you’re a victim, you should do the same ASAP.

Update 4: Yet more details on this scam.

Update 5: Just read on a message board that one person discovered the thieves were trying to open new credit card accounts in his name. Time to pull my credit reports I guess.

Update 6: Another lesson learned – if you get hit with this scam, be sure to report the charge as fraudulent and not just a disputed charge. This will (should?) ensure a charge back is sent to the scammers, hitting them in their merchant account. I just called Chase and they confirmed that when I reported the need to cancel my cards, they upgraded the charge to fraudulent automatically.

God Detection System: Initiating Now

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Nope, same as always: absolutely no evidence that God exists.

We’ll try it again next time and see what we get.

Because, you know, we’re all about the science here.

Stuff

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Just stuff.

Ralph Nader says, “Give the Republicans the White House again!

The Clinton campaign says “we didn’t intend that Obama photo as a smear“, quickly following up with “not that it was ours, or anything. Whatever. Hey, look over there!” (scurry, scurry, scurry) … looks to me like more politics as usual, which is why I think we might actually see a President Obama.

In matchups looking ahead to November’s general election, Clinton leads Arizona Sen. John McCain by 48 percent to 43 percent. Obama’s lead over the virtually certain GOP nominee is twice that size, 51 percent to 41 percent.

Ouch.

And Heh.

A McDonald’s in California is giving the ancient made-up art of Feng Shui a try, channeling the made-up energy of chi in all sorts of fantastic ways, which is easy to do when you’re just making things up. Perhaps, if the executives in the McDonald’s board room really want to grow profits, they should all watch “The Secret” and compel the universe to make everyone Super Size themselves.

Colorado moves one step closer to retail alcohol sales on Sunday. Hey, look at us, we’re almost all grown up and getting our boobies here.

In a time of war, with economic crises looming, the U.S. Congress still has its priorities straight. Well, for a bunch of pinheads. Which, um, they seem continually bent on demonstrating that they are.

Atheists are fomenting rebellion, rising in numbers! The end is nigh! Hide the women and the whisky!

Also, marvel at how Mary Jordan of the Washington Post draws some moral equivalence between the fanaticism of 9/11 and the “extremism” of someone crossing out “In God We Trust” from U.S currency.

On the flip side, it looks like Texas may be heading back towards breeding stupid children.

Via the magic of Last.fm (see right sidebar), I came across the band Speechwriters LLC yesterday. I dug it. So I went to iTunes, looked it up, saw it was $9.99 for an album and almost bought it.

Instead, I went to Amazon’s MP3 store, and found the same album for $3 less. What did the extra $3 get me at iTunes? Digital Rights Management (DRM). Well, that’s quite the selling point there, Apple. No, thanks, I like my music to have its freedom.

And, uh, that’s all.

The Joys of Socialized Medicine, A Continuing Series

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

When the United Kingdom’s NHS refuses to offer advanced treatment, and the patient decides to pick up the tab on their own dime quid, what happens?

That’s right.

The NHS threatens to stop treatment altogether.

One such case was Debbie Hirst’s. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist’s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.

By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.

“He looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry, Debbie. I’ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,’ ” Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.

“I said, ‘Where does that leave me?’ He said, ‘If you pay for Avastin, you’ll have to pay for everything’ ” — in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.

If she tries everything, even selling her home, to save her own life, she’s out in the cold.

If she rolls over and dies like a good loyal subject, the NHS will gladly pay for it.

Sickening.

Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.

Nevermind that the higher taxes paid by richer citizens pay for the care of the poorer ones.

Remember, kids: socialism makes you stupid.

Scientists the World Over Breathe Collective Sigh of Relief

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

…as Florida’s State Board of Education concurs that evolution is a scientific theory (because its status was in doubt, I guess).

Florida’s public school science standards for the first time will use the word “evolution,” although the biological concept already was being taught under code words such as “change over time….”

The standards state that evolution is “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence….”

Opponents of evolution denied they had a religious motive, arguing that there are flaws in the scientific theory of evolution and that students should be allowed to explore them.

As a compromise, the standards refer to evolution as a scientific theory, explaining that a theory is a well-supported and accepted explanation of nature, not simply a claim.

Quite the compromise the creationists got! A forthright statement of facts regarding evolution. Somehow, I’m guessing that’s not what they were hoping for.

Also of note is the denial by the creationists of having a religious motive. Riiiiiight. Roger that. Sacred cows make the best hamburger, and it seems the religious right makes the best liars.

John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, objected to calling evolution the only fundamental concept underlying biology. He wrote in an e-mail to Education Commissioner Eric Smith that Baptists firmly believe there’s evidence of a “Creator-initiated origin of life” but did not object to teaching evolution.

Hmmm, when it comes to deciding whether evolution is the only fundamental concept underlying biology, should I trust a collective of the brightest minds in the world or a man who thinks that a self-contradicting book of myths, written by ignorant men over a thousands years ago and then haphazardly compiled by men in pointy hats with their own patriarchal agendas, is the height of wisdom and learning?

Tough one, that. Might have to ask me for an answer in the morning.

I Bet You Thought Joseph McCarthy Was Dead

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Well, you’re right.

He is.

Alas, through a twist of time-space New Ageism mumbo jumbo magically delicious reincarnation abracadabra, he’s been brought back to NRO’s The Corner, as a woman (but still white and still Republican, so he won’t be too upset, what with two out of three of God’s favorite qualities intact).

I don’t know how Barak Obama’s parents met. But the Kincaid article referenced above makes a very convincing case that Obama’s family, later, (mid 1970s) in Hawaii, had close relations with a known black Communist intellectual. And, according to what Obama wrote in his first autobiography, the man in question — Frank Marshall Davis — appears to have been Barack’s own mentor, and even a father figure. Of course, since the Soviet Union itself no longer exists, it’s an open question what it means practically to have been politically mentored by an official Communist. Ideologically, the implications are clearer…

Time for some investigative journalism about the Obama family’s background, now that his chances of being president have increased so much.

Do the Republicans wonder why so many independents have a complete distaste for so much of what they do these days?

I mean, really, do they?

The War is Over!

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Not the Iraq war – thanks to the initial mismanagement by Rummy and Company, that baby’s gonna go on for years more. Be serious.

No, the war between Blu-ray and HD-DVD – and Blu-ray has come out victorious!

Toshiba Corp. abandoned its HD DVD technology, surrendering the high-definition video market to Sony Corp.’s Blu-ray in the entertainment industry’s largest format war since VHS beat Betamax in the 1980s.

Toshiba, the leading promoter of HD DVD, will shut the business by the end of March, the Tokyo-based company said today.

Let the whining by early adopters begin!

(Psst, you pays your nickel and you takes your chances, folks).